Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vito's Pizza

A preview of coming attractions:

The top photo is of the Pizza Margherita - essentially their cheese pizza with added fresh tomato and basil.

The bottom photo shows the "Terra Firma" pizza with sausage, pepperoni, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms (this was originally called "The Works" when Vito's was located on Vermont but my Calabrese friend admitted that they changed the name in order to Westside-ize the pizza when they moved to La Cienega.)

For many months I've been hearing the roaring accolades about Vito's New York style pizza. I haven't been a big pizza eater since my 20s, when I OD'd on pizza, and in my 30s I naively went to Casa Bianca until a bad experience with the wait and, more importantly, the crust, sent me searching for the next great pizza. Naturally, it was time to check out Vito's.

So a gaggle of us foodies met at the 80s inspired mini-mall, whose parking lot was filled with Range Rovers parked in compact spaces, in which Vito's is now domiciled.

The Gallery of Pizza:

A close-up of Vito's Mediterranean Veggie Pie - their most popular pie right now:

Red Carpet Pizzas:

For my tastes, I think that Vito's pies are best eaten with fewer toppings. On the Margarita I thought that the tomato and basil were very distracting and did not really enhance the pizza; once I removed them I was left with a very delicious cheese pizza. And while the vegetables on the Terra Firma were fresh, and plentiful, again I think that I would have liked less toppings since the basic pie is so good. I should mention that I'm in the minority here, perhaps an island unto myself, since my fellow foodies really liked the abundant toppings.

My only critcism of our pizza pies was that the crust was slightly tough. But I found with the calzone that I took home the crust was perfect (I took home a Mio Fratello calzone [mozz, ricotta, parmesan, spinach, fresh tomato, garlic, and meatball] and as I was driving the calzone slid out of the bag on the front seat and onto the floor. The calzone managed to stay in the foil but half the filling oozed out onto the mat. Both calzone and mat were salvaged.) The flying calzone was my favorite dish.

Here's Paulie making mumsy's to-go sausage and pepper sandwich:

Vito's Pizza
846 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pho 2000 v. Pho 4000

I'm used to Pho 79, Pho 99, and I seem to remember that Pho Cafe in Silver Lake was originally called, for a very short time, Pho 101. But in Koreatown pho has gone bigtime with Pho 2000 (branches at 7th & Vermont and Western near 1st) and Pho 4000 (located at Western and 4th).

Pho 2000's website states that "many in Koreatown, Los Angeles, have voted PHO 2000 as 'BEST PHO' restaurant in Los Angeles." But word on the street is that Pho 4000 is exponentially better. Just how good are these Korean phos?

Amy dresses her rare beef pho at Pho 2000:

Sassy C and I split an order of rare beef pho at Pho 4000:

This is one of my favorite videos! Check out Sarah's beautiful noodle technique:

The side of herbs served at Pho 4000 was definitely better; the herbs were fresher and more varied. The day that I went to Pho 2000 the herbs were a little wan.


Crab and pork spring rolls at Pho 2000:

And at Pho 4000:

While 2000's were hot and crunchy, they lacked a lot of flavor. 4000's were really good (and too hot to eat!)


Pho 2000 has a menu limited to pho and spring and summer rolls while Pho 4000 has a much more varied menu. Check out Raven's Bun Tom Thit Nuong (aka "Number 11"):


Championship point for Pho 4000? Hardly! The restaurant keeps double faulting. The fatal error is that their broth sucks (how else can I put it?). You know how people talk about things looking and tasting like dish water? Well, this broth really does. I should have known since I noticed that most people before us left large amounts of broth in their bowls.

The non-pho dishes were pretty good. A big foodie turned me onto the stir-fried rice noodles. They were good but they came with a price:

So, I wanted to order another order of the stir-fried noodles. I go into the back to look for our waitress but she has disappeared. I go up to the owner, a matronly woman, and say, "Excuse me, may we order another order of number 16?" She nods her head affirmitively. But 30 seconds later, she grabs a menu, walks over to our table, and starts yelling at me in pigdin english and pointing to number 16 (stir-fried noodles). She's getting madder and madder. I guess that I'm not getting my noodles. So we call the cook/busboy/waiter over and tell him what happened and he says, "that's just the way she is." He tells her that we want another order of number 16 and she's headed back to the table. Uh oh. But this time she's all smiles and says, "yes, you get number 16!" WTF!

So, Pho 2000 has pretty good broth and the service is friendly, efficient, and quick so it wins the Korean Pho Bowl.

How do these two places stack up against Vietnamese places? Well, not very well but if you live mid-city and you don't feel like driving to Westminster or SGV (or you don't want to pay $10 for a bowl of pho at a trendy Silver Lake Vietnamese place) it might be worth it to stop in at Pho 2000.

Pho 2000
698 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Pho 4000
414 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Paris Baguette

Dear Reader, as of late I've been having car problems, dog problems, and not surprisingly, brain problems; thus, this week we have another guest blogger! Here is Raven's review of my favorite bakery in Los Angeles, Paris Baguette:

My Culinary Adventures Goes to Paris (sort of)

I haven't been to Paris myself. Maybe someday I'll go. But in the meantime I'm told by a reliable source (namely, Bon V.) that the pastries at Paris Baguette are nearly as good as you'd find in Paris.

A visit to Paris Baguette starts out with a feast for the nose. The bakery is tucked away off a small parking lot around First & Western. The upside to this location is that you can park in the lot when you go, assuming there's room. The downside is that if you don't park in the lot, it's hard to find the door to the bakery, even after you've found the address from the street. But once you do locate the door, which will probably be open if the weather is warm, you'll immediately know you're in the right place. Because the heavenly smell of baking pastries will waft out and surround you.

Paris Baguette is apparently part of a Korean chain that has opened up shop in the United States. They bake throughout the day, and outside they post a signboard listing which items will be coming out when. This means that whatever you buy is going to be fresh. And if you see something that looks appetizing, snap it up on the spot, because an hour later it will probably be gone, and someone else's taste buds will be enjoying it instead of yours.

Part of the charm of Paris Baguette is that it's a feast for all the senses. In fact, in some ways I'd say the smell and presentation of their baked goods is even more important than how they taste. Everything they makes looks gorgeous. Check out these beauties (not mine, by the way):

The bakery isn't large, but there's room inside for a display case filled with cakes, and on the opposite wall you'll find help-yourself bins full of reasonably-priced pastries. Basically, you grab a box and a pair of tongs and help yourself.

I helped myself to the following: a rice flour doughnut (sweet sugar coating but a bit bland), a pastry with green pea filling (yes, the vegetable), a banana cream pastry (it was heavenly), and some kind of pastry stick with black seeds. Bon V. told me what this was when she recommended it, but I promptly forgot (Editor's Note: it's like a sweet potato croissant dough twisty thingy).

Meanwhile I was maneuvering my way past the staff in white hats and aprons who were busy restocking the bins and helping customers. In addition to sweets, Paris Baguette also offers savory options, which I will be sampling when I go back sometime soon.

So if you're craving French pastries and you don't feel like going all the way to Paris to get them, head over to Koreatown in Los Angeles and pick some up.

Paris Baguette
125 N. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Labels: , , , ,